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Canadian tribe challenges Shell

Oct. 3, 2012 at 7:47 AM

CALGARY, Alberta, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- An aboriginal group in Canada filed a court challenge, saying the government has an obligation to engage tribal communities on energy development.

The Athabasca Chipewyan tribe filed a challenge with a joint provincial and federal panel challenging an application filed by Royal Dutch Shell to expand oil sands operations in Alberta province.

The Chipewyan community argues its entitlements, under a constitutional treaty that affirms rights over land, may be abused.

"The feds have a responsibility along with the province to fully engage the First Nations in consultation, which they refuse to do so, when it comes to major development," Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam, was quoted by Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail as saying.

Shell aims to increase oil production at its Jackpine facility near Fort McMurray to 300,000 barrels per day.

A spokesman for Shell was quoted as saying the company's "door remains open" to tribal communities in Alberta.

Aboriginal communities along the Canadian west coast have raised similar objections to plans to construct the Northern Gateway oil pipeline from Alberta to ports in British Colombia.

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